Is it really worth to work with clients who start the conversation with the keyword 'low budget'

After reading the title don't conclude that I am going to share the reasons for not working with clients who have low budgets, but want to share some of my personal experiences and associated learnings.

The journey with such clients started 5 years back when I wanted to try myself and see if I can deliver professional results & can create good impact for some business. Most of my initial experiences starting with shooting products for e-commerce websites (not very popular names, in fact many of them are closed now :) ). I had to shoot 50 products approximately in a day. Not very creative work but challenging one from lighting perspective. So my main motivation was to learn something new and put my best in these shoots. All the payments happened on time and over the months, I started getting lot of leads through these clients. I was lucky to have some of these professional clients, but slowly started meeting different sorts of folks.
 
Gradually I started spending time in Motorsports, Travel and Fine Art. All of them were different and I had to interact with different sorts of clients. Dealing style was quite different and hence the payment model as well. Some were quality focussed and few were quantity oriented. There were very few who could appreciate the creativity and time efforts. 

Now I want to share two recent experiences.

During the month of April, one friend recommended my work to an NGO founder who wanted me to shoot some products created by rural population of Uttrakhand. He started the conversation by saying that he has very 'low budget' and shared some genuine reasons. I asked more details about results he expects and number of images. He shared some samples for the kind of results he wanted and number of images. The budget was 5K for 15 images. Since client had budget restrictions, I asked him to drop the stuff at my place on Saturday morning and get them picked on Sunday evening. 

In this budget, I didn't rent out any lighting equipment or studio because that was impossible to accommodate in the budget. I spent one day on this shoot and processing. Delivered all images to the client along with few extra options. Payment was done very next done and project closed. 

Few weeks back, I came across another client who wanted me to shoot a hotel in NCR and had budget restriction of 20K. Now this was something very different. I shared my work to introduce him with my style of architecture & interiors. He was pretty happy and we did a deal of charging on time basis. Shoot for day and charge 12K. He wanted to have 20 odd images, although this target could have been achieved in 2 days shoot. We did day-1 shoot and the gentleman shared 15-20 different locations to shoot. We managed to do the same and shared the results. We received the feedback that details were not kept in mind while shooting - wire of electric jug is visible, curtains were not pressed etc. Similar feedback for all images shared. Now that was very disappointing. Now it was difficult to communicate that quantity and quality can't go side-by-side. Deciding on all details myself and shooting different location was a time expensive affair. And still there can be lot of subjectivity. For such clients, the other shooting style works wherein you project the results by tethering on laptop and show whatever you are shooting, but of-course client needs to be at location every time and not more that 5 images can be done in a day. 

Many such learnings happened during this journey and now with every shoot I learn to deal with clients who start the conversation with 'low budget'. It very important to judge the kind of results your client is expecting. Your client may be expecting something else, which is impractical in budget shared. 

So my Mantras -
1. Be very clear about deliverables
2. Have 50% payment in advance
3. Keep client updated that s/he needs to be on location when shooting is happening or keep the places/products ready (the way, they want to look in images)
4. Before proceeding with post-processing, share the raw results to let your client pick. Ask for processing style and proceed. (e.g. - You as a Photographer may prefer to show interiors in natural colors, but your client may want to have the same images in golden shades etc.)
5. Share what you committed and also share your personal favorites. (Many times, your choice wins over clients choice :) )
6. Be very careful when you listen to 'low budget' in very first conversation.

So it's worth to work with any client, but be very aware of expectations and try to avoid any subjectivity. Do share if you have some tips for me :)

4 comments:

Arun said...

Good points. Over the years, I have been trying to stick to payment terms. It's often like my way or... but not everyone may be able to pull it off.

VJ Sharma said...

Arun - I appreciate your comment. And most of the times, it's about setting some basic rules to pick(choose) a project or not. And if yes, how to proceed.

Nandan Jha said...

As a society we are not very good at being professional and that kind of leads to un-pleasant situations. I have had cases where a link went live for a few days and the guy later said that they actually wanted a full post (which we never do at Ghumakkar) so they don't need it any more. At the same time, we had excellent professional folks who were willing to pay in excess of 10K for a single post if it is of the quality they want. Guess, as you get experience your assessment and judgement improves :-)

Great story VJ.

VJ Sharma said...

Nandan - Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts.

And all these have been great learnings. True, assessment and judgement improves with experiences. And I love to experience as much as I can :)

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